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Kishanganga dispute: Pak demands Court of Arbitration, India


Press Trust of India New Delhi
Amidst escalating tension, Pakistan has demanded that the World Bank set up a Court of Arbitration to hear its objections over the Kishanganga hydroelectricity project by India, which has asked the international lender to appoint a neutral expert to settle the dispute.

According to sources, Pakistan has raised objections over the design of the hydel project in Jammu and Kashmir, saying it is not in line with the criteria laid down under the Indus Water Treaty between the two countries.

India has, however, asserted the project design is "well within parameters" of the treaty and urged the World Bank to appoint a neutral expert as the issue is a "technical matter" as suggested in the treaty.

"Pakistan has requested the World Bank to set up a Court of Arbitration... India demands that the matter be looked into by a neutral expert as it is a technical matter. The treaty says the same," one of the sources said, adding a technical expert like an engineer can understand the issue better than a legal expert.

The sources said that both India and Pakistan presented their respective facts relating to the project separately to the World Bank on September 27 in Washington.

"They (Pakistan) have objected to the design of the project. Under the treaty, there are design criteria which say the design of the project should be like this.

"We firmly believe that our design is well within the parameters laid down in the treaty. But they think otherwise. They believe India's design of the project will affect flow of the river to Pakistan," the source said.

Pakistan, a lower riparian state, had flagged the issue relating to the project, which will divert water from the Kishanganga River to the power plant in the Jhelum river basin, in the past too and approached the International Court of Arbitration in 2010.

It had claimed that the project will affect the flow of Kishanganga, known as Neelum in the neighbouring country, "adversely".

Pakistan had also claimed that power generation capacity of its Neelum-Jhelum hydropower plant, located downstream of Kishanganga, will also be affected by the Indian hydel project, work on which had begun in 2007.

The matter though was settled in India's favour in 2013.

Notwithstanding the fresh objections raised by Islamabad and beginning of the dispute resolution process, India can continue its work on the hydel project, estimated to generate 360 MW electricity, the sources said.

"Unlike the popular perception, nowhere in the treaty it is written that the work has to be stopped when the dispute resolution process is going on. The work can go on," the source said.

The sources though claimed that the Washington meeting has nothing do with the recent aggression along the Line of Control and that it was scheduled well before the Uri terror attack and Indian Army's surgical strikes on terrorist launch pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Under the Indus Water Treaty, which was signed by the country's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Pakistani President Ayub Khan in September, 1960, water of six rivers -- Beas, Ravi, Sutlej, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum -- were to be shared between the two countries.

Pakistan has been complaining of not receiving enough water.

The meeting in Washington took place a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with officials to review provisions of the Indus Water Treaty with Pakistan.

In that meeting, held at Prime Minister's official residence, it was decided that India will "exploit to the maximum" the water of Pakistan-controlled rivers, including Jhelum, as per the water-sharing pact.

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First Published: Oct 03 2016 | 4:07 PM IST

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